Have McGuinness’s ‘Dark Side’ remarks increased the risk to lives of young PSNI officers?

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Alex Kane makes an important point with regard to the deputy First Minister’s “dark side…” comments about the PSNI yesterday…

What he doesn’t say is that this perception is being framed by a comprehensive communications strategy from Sinn Fein who’ve hardly spared the kitchen sink in trying to rescue their leader from the clutches of a police force they themselves are charged with overseeing.

Both the timing and now ‘political policing’ issues are a pair of a well constructed ringers. It’s a problem for SF certainly, and depending on the outcome of Adams’ interview possibly even quite a marginal one, but a problem nonetheless.

That doesn’t mean someone in the PSNI planned it like that.

Indeed, listen to Martin’s list of things that add up to the Dark Side, it’s all pretty disparate and unconnected (rehiring old RUC men may or may not be a sub optimal use of resources, but it’s hardly a conspiracy).

The party has had time since Bell’s arrest to design a cover story for the elections and this is appears to be it. Trouble is it also sends a message that their presence on the Policing Board is a complete waste of time.

More seriously it also sends a pretty ‘dark’ message all of its own to dissident Republicans who have week in and week out been busting a gut to kill another policemen.

A perilous game for any political party and one that potentially puts the lives of the young nationalists whom Sinn Fein has encouraged to play their role by joining the PSNI at even greater risk.

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  • Neil

    I’d have given it the “Gerry is helping police with their enquiries” and no further comment approach. Unless yer man has one of those non existent get out of jail free cards they don’t have the facts on which to base a strategy until 8pm tonight or so. If they didn’t have a good idea what’s going to happen would they be this defensive? We’ll know at 8 this evening.

  • Son of Strongbow

    The answer to the question posed is ‘yes, of course they have’.

    I made the same point yesterday on the Mary Lou thread.

    You can expect PIRAnua to reference the ‘dark side’ comments when they attempt to ‘justify’ their attacks on the police.

    McGuinness has by his comments made serious accusations against serving police officers. The comments amount to a complaint against the police. Will PONI investigate?

    Also the comments suggest that McGuinness has been privately briefed by serving police officers about the alleged ‘political’ outlook of their colleagues that allegedly motivates them to involve themselves in activities that would amount to serious misconduct.

    Making such allegations of police misconduct to a third party outside the police whilst failing to report the matter to the police internal disciplinary department is contrary, at the very least, to the PSNI Code of Ethics.

    Will the PSNI be seeking information from McGuinness to further an internal discipline investigation?

    The Policing Board has a committee that oversees police discipline. Will the Board ask Sinn Fein to do what it’s supposed to do, i.e. to bring the information on alleged police misconduct that McGuinness claims to possess to proactively question police conduct; the Board’s remit after all?

  • Neil

    McGuinness has by his comments made serious accusations against serving police officers. The comments amount to a complaint against the police. Will PONI investigate?

    No, because he didn’t complain to the PO, he just complained about the police in public. It’s ok for politicians to bitch about the police, happens all the time. Unionist politicians complained about police heavy handedness which also didn’t amount to a complaint to the PO.

    Making such allegations of police misconduct to a third party outside the police whilst failing to report the matter to the police internal disciplinary department is contrary, at the very least, to the PSNI Code of Ethics.

    The person making the allegation is McG. He’s not a policeman so didn’t feel the need to report the matter to the internal discipline dept. and isn’t bound by the PSNI Code of ethics.

    I’d bark up the PBNI tree if I were you, they can ask McG and he’ll reply in the negative.

  • Mick Fealty

    Is it okay if you increase the danger to the police just to make a political point? I’m not sure anyone is refereeing here of course, but it’s another inconsistency with ‘the story’.

    Young men from Derry, Omagh, Newry and Armagh must be wondering exactly what the term ‘political leadership’ is supposed to mean.

    BTW, agree on the Adams thing. There are too few knowns, and a whole bunch of known unknowns to make much sensible comment on it at this stage…

  • mrmrman

    I doubt if his comments will have much impact.

    If you’re a dissident or dissident sympathiser you’ve probably made up your mind about the legitimacy of targeting police. Dissidents are probably laughing at the fate of GA rather than being inspired by any accusations of “dark forces”.

    On a broader point: – is criticising the police now aligned with incitement to terrorism?

  • Son of Strongbow

    PONI has the power to commence an investigation without a formal complaint when presented with circumstances that amount to a serious complaint against police officer(s).

    As keen supporters of effective oversight of the police I’m sure Sinn Fein are already lobbying the Ombudsman. ;)

    McGuinness did not make a complaint about the ‘police’ as an organisation but about a (presently unknown) number of police officers within it. He was at pains to put out this distinction himself.

    McGuinness was relying accusations made to him by police officers, the so-called “reformers” in his parlance. In making such allegations to McGuinness these “senior” (McGuinness’s word) police officers are in contravention of police regulations.

    If McGuinness is to be believed (two words that make uncomfortable bedfellows in the same sentence) and the police officers in question are indeed “senior”, of ACPO rank let’s say, then the Policing Board is their disciplinary authority.

    I agree that it is highly unlikely that McGuinness will assist the Board.

  • streetlegal

    There was something ominous in the McGuinness statement that has gone unnoticed. In relation to the alleged anti-agreement conspiracy within the PSNI, he used the words ‘We know who they are..’ This I think can be taken as a veiled threat – as with his other hat on McGuinness can be seen as representing the interests of the Provisional IRA Army Council.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “That doesn’t mean someone in the PSNI planned it like that.”

    There still seems to be IMO a rather naive view and certainly a too narrowly focussed one that decisions attributed to senior police officers, even by some of themselves, are actually taken by police officers. If we are to believe the likes of Dick Spring, or nationalist politicians I’ve spoken to, sometimes the advice of police officers and other parts of the security services will be sought but the final decision will be a political one. Obviously Dublin will have a say – it may even be the initiator of conversations – but London will do what suits London. We’re certainly very much in the dark about exchanges that are not open to full parliamentary scrutiny.

    I suspect those who are interested in conspiracy theories might well conclude that Dublin would be more concerned about the growth of Sinn Féin; London, I suspect would be more concerned about keeping the OFMDFM in situ.

  • streetlegal

    Everyone in NI is forgetting about the importance of the McConville case. The coverage by the English media has been more specifically, and correctly, focused on the horrific nature of the crime. It seems most likely that David Cameron himself, having reviewed the files, has given the green light to the PSNI to follow the evidence wherever that leads. It is the specific evidential leads which have resulted in the arrest and detention of Adams.

  • Mick Fealty

    Hmmmm

    “is criticising the police now aligned with incitement to terrorism?”

    No per se. That’s the role of the Policing Board. Or indeed any private citizen who feels their human rights have been impigned.

    But if by doing so you undermine the democratic accountability mechanism of which you play a key and very senior role then it is fair to say you are putting the electoral needs of your party [well] ahead of the welfare of your voters.

  • megatron

    The logical outcome of this argument is that even if there is a dark side to the PSNI SF should say nothing and never criticise.

    Nonsense of course. SF have a right to opinions.

    If Gardai were under threat in the South would that mean that Mick Wallace et al should have said nothing about whistleblower controversy?

    Of course serious allegations should be carefully made by all leaders but lets debate whether or not that was the case and not whether they have the right to make them. If you have (and I think you have) jumped straight to the point of presuming they made them up why dont you say that at the start?

    I am not sure why it is relevant that they are on the policing board either. They can still criticise police / police behaviour if they want.

  • tacapall

    “But if by doing so you undermine the democratic accountability mechanism of which you play a key and very senior role then it is fair to say you are putting the electoral needs of your party [well] ahead of the welfare of your voters”

    Please Mick after Matt Baggotts statement supported by the DUP and UUP concerning allowing illegal parades past Short Strand and putting the PSNI’s needs and the needs of illegal flag protestors ahead of the welfare of everyone else.

    If you could point to any political party in this part of the world that puts the needs of electors before the welfare of the party I’ll be truly amazed.

  • megatron

    “if by doing so you undermine the democratic accountability mechanism of which you play a key and very senior role”

    I cant see how this is (neccessarily) the case. SF (and all parties) have to have a public position and criticise the police when they see fit.

  • Fortlands

    Anyone who fails to see the arrest of Gerry Adams as directly impacting on the coming elections is either very naive or in love with seeing GA in prison. If we heard of the leader of a burgeoning political party in, say, Latin America being arrested three weeks from an election, we’d be citing it as a subversion of democracy. Here we say “Justice for Jean McConville”. Ballymurphy? Loughinisland? They can wait.

  • zep

    Fortlands – Anyone who fails to see the arrest of Gerry Adams as directly impacting on the coming elections is either very naive or in love with seeing GA in prison.” – Of course it will impact on the elections. As does pretty much everything that happens to a politician. Should the police not interview people in relation to crimes if they are standing for election? Is that what an Ireland of Equals looks like?

    “If we heard of the leader of a burgeoning political party in, say, Latin America being arrested three weeks from an election, we’d be citing it as a subversion of democracy.” – Would you? I reckon I would probably do a bit of reading and see what on what grounds the person was detained. Questioned about a murder after allegedly being linked to it by several different people close to him or her? What’s unusual about that?

    “Here we say “Justice for Jean McConville”. Ballymurphy? Loughinisland? They can wait.” – So… the police should draw up a list, then, and when they arrest one of ‘ussuns’ they should be made to arrest one of ‘themmuns’ too? Honestly – how do you think this should work? There have been a number of arrests over loyalist murders in recent months, how do we balance those out? Maybe we could have a lottery draw and if your crime gets pulled out then the police can investigate it, leads or no?

  • Son of Strongbow

    Aaah, good old whataboutery married with a rather fanciful take on the sensibilities of Sinn Fein voters.

    Should Adams, or any other SF ‘politician’, be charged and convicted of a terrorist related offence there would have no impact whatsoever on those choosing to vote Shinner.

    That gang has a successful electoral track record in that regard. Check out the antecedents of the Shinner Euro candidate as a prime example.

    The argument that no action should be taken by the police against those suspected of involvement in crime just because other crimes have not, as yet, resulted in arrests is contemptible.

    The same partisan argument could be employed in cases where certain victims have had inquiries held to look into the incidents of particular concern to them.

    Or indeed other cases where victims have been facilitated with case reviews and multiple meetings with senior government ministers, including the PM. The argument wouldn’t hold much water in those instances either.

  • tacapall

    Zeb what about investigating crimes that you actually have evidence against people for rather than hearsay, do you really expect Gerry Adams to be charged ? When are there going to be arrests in a blaze of publicity of those police offers who took weapons from the RUC armory and handed them to loyalist paramilitaries that were then used to murder 7 innocent people, are we to believe this was done in a clandestine manner without higher approval or that we should just brush under the carpet the fact that police officers conspired with others to murder 7 innocent people. Justice must be seen to be done and while cases like above are ignored there will always be accusations and rightly so that British justice is rotten to the core.

  • zep

    “Zeb what about investigating crimes that you actually have evidence against people for rather than hearsay, do you really expect Gerry Adams to be charged ?” – Hearsay has a fairly strict legal definition; it doesn’t simply mean ‘things people have said’.

    “When are there going to be arrests in a blaze of publicity of those police offers who took weapons from the RUC armory and handed them to loyalist paramilitaries that were then used to murder 7 innocent people, are we to believe this was done in a clandestine manner without higher approval or that we should just brush under the carpet the fact that police officers conspired with others to murder 7 innocent people. Justice must be seen to be done and while cases like above are ignored there will always be accusations and rightly so that British justice is rotten to the core.” – What is ‘rotten to the core’ is the idea that you can only investigate a crime if a quid pro quo is struck.

  • tacapall

    “What is ‘rotten to the core’ is the idea that you can only investigate a crime if a quid pro quo is struck”

    Is what I write with my keyboard coming out differently on your screen ? Where did I or anyone else say police can only investigate crime on a quid pro quo fashion ?

    Hearsay is simply hearsay when no-one is going to stand up in court and back up what they say

  • zep

    Comments like:

    “Here we say “Justice for Jean McConville”. Ballymurphy? Loughinisland? They can wait.”

    and

    “while cases like above are ignored there will always be accusations and rightly so that British justice is rotten to the core.”

    …are what I was referring to.

    “Hearsay is simply hearsay when no-one is going to stand up in court and back up what they say.” – I haven’t got the inclination to elaborate on it but this is simply untrue. What you are trying to do is concot a veneer of legitimacy for your argument that GA has no right to be questioned, through the use of legalese when it doesn’t apply.

  • tacapall

    Your at it again assuming what Im thinking.

    “Justice must be seen to be done and while cases like above are ignored there will always be accusations and rightly so that British justice is rotten to the core.”

    Does the above say investigating crimes must be done on a quid pro quo basis ? I dont think it does, it simply says while the British government brushes under the carpet their own agents murderous activities while proactively chasing others the rule of law is rotten to the core.

    You can dance around a pinhead if you like but hearsay is just rumour when no-one is prepared to stand up in a court of law to back their claims up in front of a judge and jury, well just a judge who is judge, jury and prosecutor in this part of Ireland.

  • zep

    Again, Tap, that’s just not true. There are exceptions to the rules of admissibility on hearsay, assuming that the statements in question even qualify as such in the first place.

  • tacapall

    Zeb Im pretty sure if anyone was convicted on hearsay evidence in a Diplock court that conviction would be overturned in the ECHR.

  • cynic2

    “We know who they are”

    “Yes Martin, and the whole community knows who you are and what you were”

  • DogInTheStreet

    There will never be a normalization or even the beginnings of political normalization in NI unless the old war horses retire and leave the stage so that all elected positions are held by those whose hands are consensually known and accepted as being clean off all foul deeds.

    Unless they do, it will happen by natural wastage in which case we are about 20-40 years away from the starting whistle. Unionists may not like John O’Dowd very much for example but they don’t hate him or froth at the mouth when he comes on TV. It’s people like him who should take the helm of SF. It would go a long to detoxify the body politic here.

    Same goes for those in the DUP who once had a sartorial yen for donning berets and dressing up like Dad’s Army and sharing platforms with Billy Wright and the like.

  • BarneyT

    I doubt this will change the dissident position regarding the PSNI. They might however find their numbers swelling as a result of this arrest. Whilst it wont encourage them to up their existing efforts, they might soon find an increased capability as old and newer dogs enlist. That’s a risk.

    If this GA issue results in charges and a conviction that is regarded as unsafe or contrived, the clock will surely roll back. SF will put out of government. Those they brought to the peace table will consider returning to previous campaigns, and that is scary.

    What happened to the strategy of keeping Gerry and co politically active, away from violence and free to pursue peace (thinly veiled or not). It makes me wonder if the “dark side” is simply squaring up for a dirty fight.

  • Politico68

    What the hell is up with Alex Kane these days, everytime he says something it makes less sense than the last thing he has said.

    If the dissidents want to get at the Police, nothing Marty says will make a blind bit of difference moreover, Marty himself has been on their hitlist for quite sometime. He has as much to worry about as any other dissident targets.

  • Gopher

    If SF withdraw support for the Police the Assembly falls. Martin’s threats today in itself has made more people reconsider the point of the GFA, today SF just took the piss. I don’t think the will exists within the wider community for a continued armistice. One piece of brinkmanship follows the next no party able to get to grips with democracy every incident played purely for propaganda purposes. People are just plain bored with it.

  • Reader

    Barney: Whilst it wont encourage them to up their existing efforts, they might soon find an increased capability as old and newer dogs enlist. That’s a risk.
    These new recruits – they are people who didn’t care enough about Ivor Bell but do care enough about Gerry Adams? I don’t think that will impress the dissident recruiters in the job interviews.

  • Charles_Gould

    SF can’t. To withdraw support for the peace process because police were investigating your leader for his role in the McConville murder is just not a wicket you can bat on.

  • Mick Fealty

    Jude,

    I cannot fault the passion, commitment and sheer work rate of SF workers. The base will love it when he comes out on Sunday (can’t see the judge giving the cops more time than this). But beyond that I’m not so sure others view it all through the same historic lens.

    I expect it will energise activists, but most of this is closing down options rather than opening it up. I’ve made the point here in the past that SF (and the DUP) are hoarders of political capital rather than spenders of it.

    Backing off from where they are I now is not an option without consequences for SF as much as anyone else.

  • Gopher

    SF can Charles, basically today they stated they want to subvert the law. I feel sorry for the South it simply does not have the capacity to resist the subversion that will occur if SF make government.

  • fordprefect

    Well, SF must have thought/known that there was a dark side to policing when they signed up to the GFA in 1998. Why don’t SF come out and say that they were duped? And by duped I mean, DUPed! All down the years SF said that the RUC needed “reformed” and changed and they got the “PSNI”. Did none of the brain boxes in SF realise that in that “PSNI” that people who were to the foremost in the Special Branch would still keep their jobs?

  • Gopher

    Seriously who outside Gerry’s cult do not believe he should be detained for questioning. The PSNI have been skilfully ducking detaining him for years. Gerry got himself detained no one else.

  • Charles_Gould

    Dame Nuala O’Loan on Newsnight in 10 minutes.

  • Sound Bloke

    Why just young police men? Why not middle-aged policemen?

  • Kevsterino

    In answer to the question posed atop the thread, I’d say there is nothing in MMcG’s remarks that endanger young policemen. If there is any danger it is probably to the older, ex-RUC types. Not many young ones that fit that description, at least, it depends on how you define young. My definition tends to creep up as I’ve, ahem, advanced in years.

  • Politico68

    Charles, what did nuala have to say about all the shenanigans? I can’t get it over here.

  • sitarman

    Funny how there is now all this talk from SF about political policing. They weren’t talking about political policing a couple of months back when it came to light that scores of IRA on-the-runs were secretly being handed immunity letters and royal pardons by the British government were they? Or when it was lately disclosed that the British & US Governments covered up for Sinn Fein when the IRA leadership were still importing weapons from the USA after the Good Friday Agreement had been signed? The politicizing of policing seems to be ok if it’s in their favour.

    A party that calls for equality, yet expects special dispensation for themselves.

  • fordprefect

    Politico68

    Nuala O’Loan said that there was no political agenda behind Adams being arrested and detained and that the police would have considered everything before they did that. She also said that the police have a duty to investigate all crimes no matter what the date or who the person is. That was about the gist of it Politico, I hope that was of help to you.

  • sectarianheadcount

    Relieved to hear the Justice Minister reassure that ‘there is no political policing”. Presumably parity of arrests when republican and Alliance Party member figures are compared?

  • antamadan

    on a side-note: How has the unionist/British plan to get rid of the 50:50 recruitment worked out? We were told it was unnecessary. Anyone got the latest stats?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Mick, if you were thinking a simple apology from McGuinness would prevent the next Ronan Kerr attack, I don’t see it likely.

    1. Dissidents would only be too happy for Adams to be hoist by its own petard, released he could be portrayed as some sold old traitor, convicted as a traitor who has been sold out. I don’t see the propaganda in targeting the PSNI specially about this internment, rather the enemy of my enemy is a short lasting friend of convenience.

    2. The impressionable youth syndrome, well they are not puppets but strangely free thinking individuals. As I’ve said before there’s no need for dissidents to target Catholic police officers and if unemployed young trouble makers want to target the police they won’t look for those coming out of Long Tower or women with makeup, they’ll be looking for people black uniforms who are isolated or at a stone’s throw distance.

  • Reader

    antamadan: on a side-note: How has the unionist/British plan to get rid of the 50:50 recruitment worked out? We were told it was unnecessary. Anyone got the latest stats?
    50:50 recruitment ended in 2011. There are some stats here:
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/7500-apply-for-just-100-psni-officer-posts-and-one-in-three-is-catholic-29736621.html

  • antamadan

    Thanks Reader. The re-balancing seems to have slowed since the end of 50:50 with the trend since 2011 (1% more of the total catholic since then to 30.6%). If this continues at this rate, we can expect nationalist underrepresentation to continue say 21 years time 37.6% catholic, despite a majority of the people (even over 18s) being of catholic background. And that’s before a discussion of the 2500 Assist staff, 80% of whom I think are from a protestant background (stats welcomed). It really is something that deserves more rapid change; not least to stop SF blackening the PSNI name.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Presumably parity of arrests when republican and Alliance Party member figures are compared?

    I don’t think Alliance ever had a paramilitary wing. Well, at least not a serious one with guns and stuff.

  • Son of Strongbow

    There has not been a serious police recruitment drive since 2011 mainly due to funding pressures. The established strength of the PSNI is 7500, although through natural wastage the current strength is actually in the region of 6700.

    The police hope to recruit something like 400 new officers in 2014, funds permitting.

    At present Catholic officers make up around 30% of the service’s strength. The 2014 recruitment seeks an increase in overall numbers (that is not discriminatory in religious terms) of around 5% of total service strength.

    If blanket discrimination was applied and every officer recruited was a Catholic their numbers would rise to 35% of service strength.

    It is unlikely in the present economic climate that any further funding will be available to recruit more officers.

    The numbers of Catholic officers has risen because the Patten process encouraged officers to leave to make room for new recruits and the discriminatory 50/50 policy was implemented for ten years.

    Of course the Patten exodus included both Catholic and Protestant police veterans.

    The only way that the service could quickly be brought to 50/50 Catholic/Protestant and others (and perversely the ‘others’ can include Catholics born elsewhere, say Poland for example, as the ‘community background’ test is local Irish communities) would be if some 1500 Protestant officers were targeted for the sack or encouraged in other ways to leave and then replaced by Catholic recruits.

    Legally and practically I can’t see that happening, and if it did the PSNI would find it difficult to retain any majority community support.

    Btw all new recruits would also need to be female to address the present gender imbalance within the police.

  • Comrade Stalin

    We need to stop with this nonsense that the police cannot be impartial if there are too many prods in the service. I don’t care what the religion they are as long as they do their job properly and fairly.

  • Son of Strongbow

    If only………

    This society I think enjoys these things. You’ve got to ask these questions, haven’t you?

    To police officers: are you Light or Dark side?

    To an Alliance candidate: Are you a Lo united Irelander, or a Ford unionist? ;)